Where the FDA Goes, Other Projects Follow

Near the FDA's White Oak campus, Percontee envisions a mixed-use LifeSci Village, above. Montgomery County and Republic Properties plan an office park.
Near the FDA's White Oak campus, Percontee envisions a mixed-use LifeSci Village, above. Montgomery County and Republic Properties plan an office park. (Percontee Inc.)
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 15, 2005

With almost 8,000 federal workers coming to White Oak, near Route 29 and New Hampshire Avenue, in the next six years, developers are planning other large projects in that area.

Percontee Inc. of Silver Spring said it would like to turn a 185-acre parcel where it now runs a concrete recycling plant into 4 million square feet of science research labs, offices, shops, restaurants, a hotel and apartments.

The company's land is next to the new 3 million-square-foot campus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where 7,700 employees will be moved from more than a dozen locations in suburban Maryland.

Near the government agency's new home and Percontee's site, Montgomery County economic development officials are working with District-based developer Republic Properties Corp. to turn a 115-acre parcel into an 800,000-square-foot biotech and telecommunications office park that will feature an incubator for start-up companies. The county's project is expected to have a lab and biotech manufacturing facility, as well as buildings for telecommuters and an educational institution. Construction is expected to start this fall.

Percontee said its development, which would take 10 to 15 years to complete, would mesh well with those of its neighbors.

"We hope we can create a very dynamic village in White Oak that integrates the county's technology vision with the FDA's coming and have an area in our project where there's a sense of community and pedestrians can walk to retail, residential and offices," said Jonathan Genn, executive vice president at Percontee.

The area is now mostly office parks and strip malls with a hodgepodge of mostly mom-and-pop tenants.

"At 5 p.m., [office parks in the area] go dark," Genn said. "It's a ghost town on a weekend. There's a real opportunity with all these projects to create a vibrancy to support quality restaurants and quality amenities."

The Percontee company, which is run by the Gudelsky family, has several businesses in the trucking, sand, gravel and rubble recycling industries, including the concrete recycling plant at White Oak. But it also has a track record as a developer. It is best known for developing malls in Wheaton and Tysons Corner, and it has developed housing in Montgomery and Howard counties.

Genn said he plans to submit development plans for the project, to be called LifeSci Village, to Montgomery planning officials later this year and would like to start construction of the roughly $300 million project in late 2006.

Some neighbors are worried about increased traffic in the area with the Percontee project.

"It seems on paper that it could be a real enhancement of office and residential in the Route 29 corridor," said Stuart Rochester, who lives in the area and is chairman of a community planning group, but he said he's worried about added traffic in the area.

Closings

CB Richard Ellis, a leading commercial real estate services company, said some of its brokers will start a division that focuses on serving nonprofit groups, associations and professional societies looking for office space.

The group will have about 35 real estate brokers by the end of the year in Washington, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, said Emanuel Fitzgerald, a senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis who will head the nonprofit practice. It will be one of the few firms in the Washington area with a group dedicated solely to serving nonprofit groups, which lease about 15 percent of the city's 110 million square feet of office space.

· ING Clarion of New York, a real estate investment firm, paid $23.4 million for 7701 Southern Drive, a 250,000-square-foot building in the Springfield Industrial Park.

· The District ranked 37th in a survey of the most expensive places in the world to rent office space. Rents in the city were $41.84 a square foot at mid-year. Space was most expensive in London's West End at $178.41 a square foot, according to the survey by CB Richard Ellis.

Dana Hedgpeth writes about commercial real estate and economic development. She can be contacted by e-mail athedgpethd@washpost.com.


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